Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A cross-ruff squeeze

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. I was dealt the following hand in a challenge match. While I did not make the ambitious SIX SPADE contract despite negotiating trump for one loser, post-mortem analysis showed how I could make it. The slam is cold on any lead.

The lead was the Jack of hearts. I won in hand, and planned to take two spade finesses. It would be nice not to be missing the spade nine but I had to hope for the best. I advance the Q, covered King and ace. I returned to hand in diamonds and played a second spade up. I guessed to put in the 8 and breathed my first sigh of relief. RHO returned a diamond.

The rest is analysis. I now needed to tread a narrow path, Winning, I need to ruff a diamond and in the following diagrammed position, draw West's last trump. East is squeezed in three suits, (in clubs in a overtaking entry squeeze)

On the ten of spades, East cannot weaken a red suit. A diamond pitch sets up a twelfth trick at once. A heart pitch allows, HA Hruff, setting up long H with Club entry to enjoy the established heart. So East pitches a club. However, declarer now plays CK and CQ and noticing the fall of the J and the T which were made tight, declarer OVERTAKES the CQ with the Ace (see third diagram postion) and advances the now good C9 (this is not a extra 12th trick but a entry creating measure) throwing a heart and THEN playing the last free winner the trump simple squeezing East in the last diagrammed position

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hexagonal squeezes and six-card end positions

In 7NT (an overbid by design) I have twelve top tricks and extended menaces in spades and hearts. They lead a club and I peel off clubs putting pressure on both defenders. There is a dimaond Jack menace against the defender with the Diamond queen who will come under pressure in three suits, in principle. Each defender in turn tries to keep three cards in spades and hearts but is overburdened. I envision the six card ending to be something like the following. Now Ace and King of diamonds turns the screw on the partner of the defender holding on to the diamonds who must weaken one or the other of the extended meance suits.

If he weakens the same extended suit his partner has weakened (if he throws a spade, )declarer gets long spade for his thirteenth -( the situation in heartss and spades is symmetrical, it does not matter that for my example West has chosen to weaken spades somewhat unnaturally from his QJ)

So let us say he throws a heart in the diagrammed position on the second diamond. Now the sole guard of hearts is transferred back to the person with the diamond guard. So simply cash Spade Ace King and West is simple squeezed now.

This is a typical hexagonal squeeze. I learnt this lesson of identifying hexagonal squeezes from a player on the opponents' team, Bill Cole, in a Yale Harvard varsity match of the nineties.

The grand slam is a poor proposition, results notwithstanding, because an attack in communication in either extended menace suit will set the hand. A diamond or club lead allows the make.

In practice, the diagrammed position (the most thematic) was not arrived at, as West let go of diamond guard.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A neat deal. Squeeze play in 6NT

An agricultural auction landed me in 6NT. With the spades breaking, the only testing lead is a heart (else I can establish four spade tricks by losing a spade trick). I misguessed at trick one, or there would be no story. When the Queen was covered by the King, I rectified the count for a possible squeeze by ducking

When E continued hearts, I won, and worked on a double squeeze with the following threat cards H7, CJ, and the third round spade. I had to watch the discards for H8,T,J, CQ and there were guard squeeze possibilities. Indeed, after I cashed C AK, pitching spades, and ran a few diamonds, the first key end position was this, with East having to choose from three evils. If he blanks his SQ, I play a spade to King and pick up the J on a finesse. He cannot let go a Club or dummy's J promotes into a twelfth trick. He chose to be squeezed out of HIS heart guard. On the same trick, I let go the now useless CJ, and his partner was simple squeezed in hearts and spades

Notice that at trick two, East can break up the doubly guarded suit entry by shifting to a low spade, not a easy shift to find.

I shared this deal with my bridge partner, who looked me up and down, and said, the play was not bad, but next time do bid TWO CLUBS and you may get to the laydown SEVEN DIAMONDS. What are partners for?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Plan play in 6NT double dummy. Play or defend?

This real life hand, dealt in a BBO ROBOT IMP tourney provides fascinating scope for double dummy analysis. With best defense, would you care to declare or defend 6NT?

Consider one sample double dummy line on a Diamond lead. Win in hand high, preserving the Ten in dummy. Cash the heart Ace. Advance the SQ, forcing cover all around. Now lead a small heart toward K7. Righty with QJ6 has to split. (If he does not, letting my 7 win, I change horses and build up a club trick by forcing out the king, now 3H+2C+2S+5D =12) Win King and play a heart toward the 98x, establishing a good and long heart (A,K,8, x is 4 heart tricks). East on lead finds that all suits are stopped by declarer, who still has the DT entry, 5Diamonds + 4 hearts + 2 spades + 1 club = 12

Other leads are easier to analyse

So, did you chose to play or defend? What is that? You chose to play? Wrong. The lead of KING of spades prematurely knocks out the dummy entry, leaving you unable to do the fancy trick building footwork in hearts

Monday, January 30, 2017

Defending ONE SPADE, your lead at trick twelve?

You are playing in a matchpointed pairs 8 board individual event, and you are averaging a remarkable 79% after 6 boards. You are now defending ONE SPADE (all Pass). This is what you see. Please click on next for the first few tricks and stop at the diagrammed position.

Have you been counting or have you relaxed in the warm glow of success? How many trump are out. What do you play when you ruff in with the ST. the trump King or the heart. Why? Be specific.

If you have been counting there are 3 trump out in the two card ending. Declarer has 2 and partner has 1. Playing SK is a NULLO play because declarer's last trump will be worth a contract fulfilling trick. No, the only hope is that partner has a high trump and that declarer must helplessly underruff the last two tricks. Return the heart five and feel that warm glow grow into a huge grin. You have won the tourney of 71 people with an over 80 percentage. (In reality I got only 63% for -80 on this board, luckily a forcing NT gets them to a superior club spot or we could compete and go overboard)

The full hand

No doubt you noticed that declarer can always make the contract. It was a poor effort by him not to play a trump collapsing defense's 3 potential tricks. He has at least two opportunities to do so. Also, partner could have ruffed the CJ with his stiff trump Q giving us absolutely no chance to go wrong.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Take partner off that last trick guess

Hugh Kelsey, the bridge writer, in one of his books on Improving Your Partner's Play wrote of an important technique, which is almost an everyday occurrence defending 3NT. The attached example where the mentor sat West and the protege sat East is a case in point.

The ending on the left arose with myself, the expert on lead. I momentarily forgot Kelsey's advice and needlessly put partner to a test or a memory squeeze by cashing my second good spade on trick twelve. Instead, knowing that partner had a club and diamond winner I should exit one trick earlier when partner has two winners left and does not choose the wrong one to throw away. Remember this advice, it will save many disasters in individuals, lower flight games, and in new partnerships.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

That missed "lock" in the ending

A "lock" is a sure thing, a colloquialism among bridge experts. If you play too fast and do not take those extra chances, you may be missing a lock, as I did here.

After a passed hand Drury bid by partner, showing a good 3 or 4 card spade raise, I bid the game. The Queen of clubs was led, won with the Ace in dummy, then followed quickly, club ruff, heart ruff, club ruff, heart ruff (Queen appearing, no idea why)

I now cashed the SK both following, and tried a diamond up to the King. It lost to Lefty. Lefty proceeded to cash DQ, and exited with his last club (a diamond or a spade or a heart hands me the contract). I ruffed, and took stock. When I cashed the Spade Ace the trumps failed to behave and the position was this.

If I had been playing more slowly, I would have realized there is now no need to bank on H"AJ" bringing down a now stiff HK (despite the falsecard). I had a lock! I should play the trump exit (unusual in a cross ruff type of hand), since a) there are no club masters outstanding b) DJ and the club in dummy will either spring to life or I will get a lead into my H:AJ.

Instead, I sadly played the other major suit ace and went one down.

EDIT: If west keeps his HQ, I should ruff out his card of exit, clubs and then play for the endplay which works because Lefty holds all the diamond honors. If I fail to ruff out his card of exit and play a diamond first, he takes his two diamond tricks and exits with HEART QUEEN, I may win but the endplay or stepping stone does not work because he has a card of exit, a club and I must additionally lose a heart to RIGHTY.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A vice-like trump squeeze for 13 tricks

The HA is led against the unambitious contract, but let us assume you are in SEVEN. plan play before reading on.

Let East try to keep parity with dummy in Hearts. You run N minus 2 trump to this end-position.

Now cross to SA,cash SK to turn the screw on E in the hexagonal position

What is E to keep on this trick? If he throws a H equal, advance HQ ruff out, return via CA to enjoy H8. If he throws a club, Cash CA ruff a heart and enjoy C7.

Expertly played 3NT

Ignore the bidding where I had chosen to open 1NT with a stiff King, and was trying to wriggle into three notrump after the transfer

Lead was D4 to the Q and King

I played C9 to the J and Ace, and returned the C4 to the Q and King.

Now west needed to play a Heart but he did not know that on the bidding.

He played DJ, I won, unblocked HK and exited D5, pitching H, (my D9 set up)

Now east was without resource. He tried a club, but instead of running it round to dummy (obvious and wrong) I rose and played three clubs and the established diamond, putting pressure on West in the delayed duck department, in spades and heaarts, he came down to S:AQ H:Q in the three card ending

I pitched all my hearts and one spade and when I played up a spade, West won, and had to give me a Heart stepping stone.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Unusual Opportunity for a Discard

They opened one club, partner merely overcalled, after an aggressive evaluation, I first cuebid, then put my partner in the spade game

When a club went to the Ace, and a diamond was returned like an express train, partner took the reasonable line of going up Ace of diamonds and played the King of clubs, pitching a diamond. There was no recovery from here.

This is a curious hand where you need (following the assumption that all the diamonds are bunched up on declarer's left,) to maintain the 8 of diamonds and pitch a heart, because you need the suit-establishment power D8 to set up the D suit for one loser, after trumps are drawn. Therefore the right discard on the King of clubs is a HEART, not the precious D8. Watch. HEART pitch on the King of clubs, spade ace and spade. Now either opponent can arrange to win this trick, although in practice W likely will, and tap dummy with the Queen of clubs. (It makes no difference if W unblocks SK and E wins, and a heart forces north to trump). The next trick is to the Diamond 8 or the diamond 8 led around. North now has TWO trump at least left, to ruff out and set up the diamonds)

So this is a peculiar hand where the suit establishment possibility of AQJ9x opposite 8x indicates it is better to develop this suit with the help of the 8 rather than discard the 8 on a established winner, and get tapped out!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A BBO Robot plays a Moysian fit

Usually when you compete in BridgeBaseOnline's ACBL ROBOT tourneys, you get to play the hands your partner declares, except in a few tourneys where if the ROBOT hogs the hand he will zip through the play. Here, I had a clear and normal call of 3NT a) because I am not afraid of the diamond suit in Notrump b) and FOUR HEARTS has got to be a Moysian because partner would bid hearts first with five or more, even with longer clubs. Nevertheless, I had a mad moment of reasoning that my hand will play better in the Moysian because my cards are all working for suit play.

In notrump twelve tricks are available with the friendly finesses working, without breathing hard. In hearts, the machine chose to play off HA and HK and play clubs toward the then stiff HJ relying on a coup like position. When East ruffed high, a most curious road to 12 tricks was there. In the Moysian, the machine still ruffed a diamond to hand took happy spade finesses and ran clubs. For our pains we lost 0.6IMP

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Bro.Lucius watches the spots

I actually played the hand as described. After I analyzed the deal, I wrote up the following, with apologies to David Bird (Bro.Lucius)

Bro.Lucius was once again in a Robot BBO tourney, which he preferred sometimes to playing against the Abbot, "At least these machines do not have inflated egos". He also enjoyed these tourneys where defensive or competitive bidding was rarer than at the usual pairs game. It appealed to the hog inside him.

Finding himself with three Aces opposite a passed hand, he opened a club, and found his rebid of one notrump raised to two. Applying the Monastery's version of the Kaplan point count for notrump, and adding two points for his declarer play, Bro. Lucius had no hesitation in going on to the thin 23HCP game.

The lead of DK was a pleasant surprise but Lucius paused to take stock. After a while, he won with the Ace, and prepared for tightening the endposition, and avoided starting on a black suit by ducking a round of hearts. Righy Robot (RR) won and played a spade. This was ducked as LR (Lefty Robot) won King, and exited with a spade. Declarer won in Dummy, tested Diamonds playing the Queen, discarding a heart as LR did likewise. After another pause, Bro. Lucius played the diamond Jack and pitched a club after East followed and paused for a long time when LR threw a club. When he advanced the CQ, Bro.Lucuis noted with interest the appearance of the SEVEN from RR. LR won and his club discard seemed to have given away the contract, for Bro.Lucius's clubs were good

A voice behind him made Brother Lucius jump two feet into the air "I can understand if novices waste their times playing against machines that do not understand the game, but I expect better from my senior monks: thundered the Abbot. "Even a novice with 10 green points would not throw a club"

"Actually, Abbot" said Bro. Lucius, regaining his composure from the Abbot's unannounced entry into the alcove where he kept his old overheated Dell laptop and somewhat spotty wireless router, "It doesnt matter. If he keeps the long club, he is squeezed in a hearts or a card of exit. if he throws a spade instead, as you seem to suggest he could the hand plays itself. I cash HA watching RR play the King, And I cash CA and RR's CJ clarifies the situation. It is a classic two loser squeeze. Nor could LR have held both spade exit and a long club for he has the sole heart guard or i make the ninth with the HT After cashing my aces one after another, and watching discards, I exit with a heart leaving LR on play. He has to lead away from his Nine Five into my Club Ten Six tenace."

Lucius's last words were answered with a gust of wind from the cassock of a fleeing harrumphing Abbot

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Joe Grue's 3NT ; play on 87xx toward Qx in hand

The above sublimely played hand made a great impression on me. This was early this year on Vugraph, with Joe Grue at the helm in a 3NT against world-class players Greco and Hampson. He made a early "flexible" play of a heart from 87xx toward his Qx, Second hand needed to play the A or J an unblocking move from AJ9, hardly clear at that early stage. An inexorable surrendering of the ninth trick to declarer followed an unlikely endplay. Card magic!

A decent grand slam, which not everyone reached.

Yes, it is neither neccesary nor professional to jump to a grand, but it was a decent one. We won a lot of IMPs.

A communication blocking holding of declarer

In the ending made a mistake of exiting with a Heart. I actually make the contract in the ending if I exit with a club and hope for righty to have H:QT C:AJ tight or C:KJ tight, not C:AT or C:KT. They can only disentangle three tricks and have to give me a game going trick. By exiting heart, I am giving up any chance of making a trick.

A stopper for No-Trump is strictly for the birds - Part I

I understood that my heart stopper did not exist and partner was certainly not obliged to hold one either, but it did seem that we had an awful lot of tricks on top but almost surely not eleven in suit contract, so I put my money where my mouth was, so to speak. Yes they could just have taken 4 hearts owing to the break (somewhat indicated on the bidding), but they didnt even do that, +660 and a happy Notrump hog

I couldn't make up this stuff.

If there are any non-adults, content warning about unsuitable "bidding". My 3NT was not even a respectable gambling 3NT with all those outside controls. Why not 5D and be done with it? Meanwhile, the Robot looked learnedly at his convention sheet and "inferred" that I had somewhere upward of 25 HCP. He ventured 6NT

Down cane the dummy, and I see that we have a slight problem. They have also found the HK lead. Is it time to lower the white flag? No, when you bid like me or have partners like mine, a stoic disposition and a poker face come with the territory. I dont know if my exaggerated Thank You partner had any impact on the Robots, But RHO unaccountably failed to overtake to guarantee a set, and produced a most curious deuce. Now West, a learned robot had heard of the Bath coup. So he/she/it switched. That is all she wrote

An unusual maneuver in an ending, missed

Use 'Next' to advance to the six card ending, where we can afford to lose one trick. The heart discard by Righty has been ominous. I took the simplest route to cross to dummy to pull the last trump and went down, when Righty ruffed and he had the spade ace coming

Although it requires placing the spade J in addition to the spade Ace(which is marked on the bidding and early play) spade Ace, there is a cute way to thread the needle in the six card ending. Do you see it? Leave me a comment if you do

Yes, perhaps I was unlucky that the "weak 2D" overcaller had a side suit of length 4, but in this game you make your own luck.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

To split or not to split

If everyone is playing double-dummy, automatic plays become wrong plays and strange plays become correct. To imagine every layout of the spot cards, and to go to a fourth dimension, is to transcend ordinary analysis and play like the gods. The west player on the following hand has an interesting problem when clubs are led. (He gets off to the best lead, a trump, and once again when in with the spade King, gets off to a second trump, the best for his side.) His moment of truth arrives when the four of clubs is led from hand. (This hand is a strange echo of the last post "A difficult 8-card ending", once again the club suit is 4-3 West East) It seems automatic to split from Q, J, T, but if he does, he gets to hold the lead, since his partner cannot overtake, Now, if he continues a high club, I win in hand, and use the two dummy entries (trump and Jack of spades) to ruff a club small, establishing the King, and enjoying it for a diamond discard. If instead, West tries a small club,i duck to East's 9, fly Ace on East's diamond return, cross in spades, ruff a small club, setting up King, and cross to trump Ace to take my diamond pitch.

Thus, West's correct play is to time the first round of the club suit (tempo is important!) by not splitting Q,J,T, letting his partner win the 9 which he has to hope he has!! Now East's Diamond return is in time!

In practice I won 7 IMP as west fell from grace and even spared me the hard work, returning a diamond into the teeth of my tenace

A difficult 8-card ending

You play in four hearts. Click on next until three rounds of trump are drawn. Here, i went wrong. How would YOU play?

You see, you need to eliminate East's diamond and clubs as he comes under pressure in exiting, you also need west to have the Ace of clubs. However, you need to be surgically precise

If you try CT, West ducks, you win in dummy, EAST will need to UNBLOCK his Jack or Nine. Now when you continue with a small club (My own play of spade was stupid) East will play his preserved small card and west will win club EIGHT. Now there is no endplay, when west exits with the Jack of spades. (On any other exit, say a diamond, East's D exit goes away as you ruff in dummy and you ruff yourself to hand stripping East of clubs, and then lead a spade up, if west plays low, you stick in the nine endplaying east, if west puts in the Jack, you play the Queen and when East wins he has only spades and has to lead away from the spade Ten to the split menace Ax and 9x

The correct play in the EIGHT card ending is a low club, the 7 to the King in dummy. Now they have no answer as you play a club back toward your TEN, EAST has to win Jack, and has to return a diamond (or dummy's CQ sets up), you ruff the diamond, ruff out his club exit and proceed as above.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Despite nullo play, I get top board

I open a offshape 1NT in fourth seat, hoping to skew the result and slightly preempt the opponents. Partner transfers to spades and shows a invitational hand with secondary diamonds. I decide my Jx of spades is enough for game to be a good bet. West leads CK. I cannot hold off gainfully in Four Spades, and there is the risk of a ruff, so I win, and take a slight risk, crossing in diamonds to play a spade up to my J. To no avail, as West wins, and he can now scuttle my contract with CQ and C ruff, but he is not sure of the C position. He returns a diamond. I win and pull two trumps in dummy and play a heart up. RHO follows small

What do you play and why?

West was a passed hand. Can he have C:KQ, S:A as well as H:A? No. Therefore, there is no guess. You have to rise HK

East did well to play low. He gave you a guess. You are insulting east if you put in the Jack. It will lose to West.

Alas, I too forgot the significance of the dog that did not bark in the nighttime. I lost to the Queen. Now West made the last blunder of the game by cashing CQ, instead of playing a heart, forcing me to ruff, and lose two clubs for one down.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

6H, a show-up squeeze, pressure in three suits.

After a somewhat agricultural auction, where I ask for keycards and, since on the opening bid, partner rates to have the DK protected from the lead, I raise to 6H. Since this is a robot tourney, I take the North seat and play on the DQ lead

RHO wins DA and returns a diamond, I fly King and take stock. If the club finesse is right, it can wait provided four spades run, since there is a show-up squeeze in the ending.

Accordingly, I pull trump. They break 4-1. I draw four rounds as LHO pitches a spade along the way. Now four spades run, and I finish the fifth trump, LHO keeps his DJ, and has to bare his CK, and on a club to the AQ, the King pops up on my left. NOTE: My LHO did not misdefend in pitching a spade. He comes under pressure in spades, diamond and clubs. If he lets go clubs, my entire club suit sets up with the aid of a finesse. This is a triple squeeze.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bridge Analysis - 3NT

A complex deal which saw me at the helm in 3NT. I represented 20 HCP values with 2NT, a slight overbid and partner put me in game, another overbid. I won the diamond lead and led out the CJ from hand and had no problems when LHO played the stiff T and RHO chose to win the first club

Plan play if RHO refuses the first club. Take your time, then read below.

Double dummy, you will need two late spade entries to dummy (the Nine and the queen) to finesse and set up the clubs. Play for the layout Txxx Kx, Your first lead must be the JACK of spades. ( If East wins, they can take one spade and one heart and two diamonds but that is all. You use the NINE of spades to finesse the clubs ending in hand as east doesnt cover, and the Queen of spades to run the suit) If East ducks, you cash the two black aces and exit in clubs to clear and establish the suit. Queen of spades is an entry to dummy. In this variation they can take One club one heart aand two diamonds that is all. What is that you say? If West has the KJ9 remaining of diamonds and East has the Heart Ace, I am down? Yes, but in this game, you make your own luck.

i won a bushel of MPs for my 3NT, but I wonder if I would have found the spade Jack play at trick three if E ducked

Monday, January 20, 2014

East has a choice of evils.

After (a somewhat unusual SA lead) and a club shift, I took two clubs and two top trumps, and played four rounds of clubs pitching two diamonds. It would not help East to ruff the fourth club with his master trump, because I then cash DA, conceded a diamond and ruff my losing diamond, losing just three tricks, Spade Ace, master trump, and a diamond. He chose to discard. I now continued DA and a Diamond. East was in a curious postion. He either has to let his partner win with the Queen and since his partner does not have the master trump to pull trump with, I cross ruff conceding just one trick to the master trump, OR he has to overtake DK to play a master trump but then my DJ has grown up into trick ten.

Welcome to Ramesh's BRIDGE BLOG

In these pages, I comment on hands from Bridge Base Online ACBL tourneys. I play in these with a variety of partners with different degrees of skill. I might present a hand or two from my collection of bridge books, every now and then. I am more interested in play and defense than in complex bidding systems, but I do follow the cut and thrust of Vanderbilt and World Championship Vugraph and try to keep abreast of expert practice in the obstructive and constructive bidding system department. I may also feature, newspaper-style, famous hands from important matches that I saw on Vugraph.

NOTE: For JUNE, I am experimenting with adding BBO's Handviewers, which make bridge movies embedded. Just
scroll down beyond the few sampled book covers and you arrive at the blogs that play themselves with the NEXT button. THANKS, BBO!!

About Me

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Bridge expert for 20 years. I started blogging about bridge only in 2009. Chess follower. Problem fan. Studied hundreds of composition themes in two-movers, fairy chess, the former from the Good Companion era to the modern style of virtual play. Big collector of chess and bridge rare books. My two game blogs bridge blog, and my chess problem themes blog chess expo

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog

My alter ego, The Hideous Hog

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